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Originally published July 13, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified July 19, 2007 at 4:08 PM

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Beltre's bizarre hit and run gives M's 4th straight win

It's one thing for the Mariners to talk about never giving up. But a scrambling, scampering Adrian Beltre turned those words into action...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Today

Detroit Tigers @ Mariners, 7:05 p.m., FSN/KOMO (1000 AM)

Pitchers: M's Jarrod Washburn (8-6, 3.72) vs. Jeremy Bonderman (9-1, 3.48)

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There has been plenty of talk all season inside the Mariners' clubhouse about the need to not quit.

It usually involves trying to emerge from a losing streak, overcoming the fatigue of road trips, or battling back from a late deficit. But on this latest occasion, Adrian Beltre invoked the not-quitting clause in describing his mad dash for survival on the basepaths during a fifth-inning play Thursday night that decided his team's 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

Beltre had just hit a tying, two-run single to right field, but appeared to be a dead duck trying to head to second base on the same play. Ever the gamer, he made a head-first slide around the swipe-tag attempt by Tigers shortstop Carlos Guillen. Beltre overshot the bag, but got up and kept on dodging further tag efforts before sprinting to third.

As a startled Guillen and the Tigers protested furiously that Beltre had been tagged out, Richie Sexson kept on running around the bases for another Seattle run that proved to be the scoring difference.

Today

Detroit Tigers @ Mariners, 7:05 p.m., FSN/KOMO (1000 AM)

Pitchers: M's Jarrod Washburn (8-6, 3.72) vs. Jeremy Bonderman (9-1, 3.48)

"There was no way I could come back to second because he [Guillen] was just standing right there," Beltre said after his team's fourth consecutive victory. "I was trying to get my way around. But I turned around and my only way was to third, so I took off."

The crowd of 31,994 at Safeco Field erupted in thunderous cheers as it realized Beltre was safe and all the runs counted. But second-base umpire Bruce Froemming had plenty of explaining to do as the Tigers, led by Guillen and manager Jim Leyland, surrounded him on the field.

"They don't get him and now they come out to argue that they got him," Froemming told a pool reporter after the game. "But they don't know if they got him or not."

But television replays appeared to show Guillen tagging Beltre at least once, if not twice.

"It felt like twice," Guillen said. "I don't know. He made the call."

The confusion mounted moments later when the Tigers made an appeal throw to second before the next pitch. Froemming called Beltre out, ruling he'd never touched the bag before heading to third.

But replays appeared to show Froemming getting it wrong once again. Beltre did indeed appear to touch second base — Froemming initially made a "safe" gesture with his arms that seemed to confirm it — but was ruled out nonetheless.

"He said that I never touched the bag, which I did," Beltre said. "He [Guillen] might have tagged me, I don't know. It was weird because I was trying to swing away from him. I don't know if he tagged me."

The bottom line was a Mariners victory — despite notching only six hits — to open the post-All-Star-break portion of the schedule. J.J. Putz preserved the win for Felix Hernandez with his 25th save in as many tries, retiring Gary Sheffield on a pop-up and striking out MVP candidate Magglio Ordonez with a runner on second in the ninth.

Putz has recorded 27 consecutive saves, tying a team record held by good friend and one-time Mariners closer Eddie Guardado.

"I feel honored to be [mentioned] in the same name as Eddie Guardado," Putz said. "A great competitor. A great closer. It's nice, but it's even nicer that we got the win coming off the All-Star break."

Seattle now is just two games behind the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West and a game back of Cleveland in the wild-card standings. The Mariners have stayed in contention thanks to the never-quit attitude Beltre displayed in that fifth, continuing to dodge and weave when everyone expected him to concede the tag.

Hernandez showed a similar attitude in the fourth, with runners at the corners, none out and Detroit threatening to add to a 2-0 lead. Instead, Hernandez got a soft line out, then fanned Brandon Inge and Curtis Granderson to keep his team within a pair.

"I was telling myself, that guy's not going to score," Hernandez said. "I know those guys are going to score some runs. I was just trying to keep us in the game."

That he did, scattering 10 hits and allowing two runs. He left with one out in the seventh, turning things over to a bullpen that has helped Seattle to a 39-2 record when leading after six.

"I thought Felix battled hard and kept us in the game," Mariners manager John McLaren said. "I thought we were a little rusty. They were a little rusty too."

Detroit committed two errors and numerous fielding mistakes to drive up the pitch count of Tigers rookie starter Andrew Miller. Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez was ejected after committing the second of those errors, in the fourth, arguing with plate umpire Mike Winters that hitter Yuniesky Betancourt interfered with him as he tried to throw Beltre out on a steal attempt.

One inning later, Beltre was off and running again and the Tigers were back feuding with the umpires.

"It was a funny play," McLaren said. "You don't see that play every day. But fortunately, Beltre got the great big hit for us. He kept it alive for us to score and it was the big play of the game."

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com.

Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners

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